Where’s dad going? The effect of family separation

“My dad was detained in front of me on my way to school, it was the hardest thing to watch,” 13-year-old girl Fatima Avelica said during Senator Chuck Schumer’s border press conference.

This increases a child’s chance of toxic-stress, which is used to describe the effect of extreme childhood experiences have on their brain architecture and chemistry according to the DNA learning center.

Avelica was only 13 years of age when just a normal day she watched her father get detained by ICE. It disrupted her family stability and any sense of safety that they felt. Now she aspires to go to law school to become an immigration lawyer.

“I never thought that any of my life I would have to experience seeing my father taken away from me. He has always been right beside me to help me in any struggles I had. He was a person to sustain my family, now my family and I are living day by day to see what happens next,” Avelica said.

According to a recently analyzed data of the 2010-2014 census, “5.9 million U.S. citizens children under the legal age of 18 live with an undocumented parent or guardian”. That is 5.9 million children taken away from the parents, from their safety, and from their childhood.

Children who have experienced having at least one detained or deported parent were found to experience behavioral changes such as, crying, withdrawnness, clinginess, anger and/or aggression, anxiety, and a change in their eating and sleeping patterns according to a study of immigration-related parental arrests in 2010.

From 2013-2015 an article was published in a physiological trauma academic journal about the distress found in Latino children who are U.S. citizens that experience the deportation or detention of a parent. They found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was much more prominent in children living under these circumstances.

These children are living under extreme levels of psychological trauma on a day to day, for fear of losing everything they have ever known. The conditions that take them away from their childhood and forced to grow up and face the world that is trying to tear their families apart.

In 2018 we advocate anti-racism, equal rights, gun laws, the LGBTQ community, and yet we feel it’s okay to see a father walking his 13-year-old daughter to school and detain him. We are letting it be okay to tear families completely apart and let children grow up without their parents because of a few missing pieces of paper.

We are the ones creating mental health issues in children of being deported and detaining parents.

American Adoption reported that there are 400,000 children living in U.S. foster homes with 100,000 of them waiting to be adopted, but we are going to add to the number of kids who don’t have their parents.

5.9 million children have the potential to experience PTSD and toxic-stress because they are living with at least one undocumented parent. What is the world going to look like if 5.9 million families become separated by detention and deportation, I ask again, where is the humanity?

Stop tearing families apart.

Bethany Nash

Author: Bethany Nash

Nash spends her third year at Palomar majoring in Journalism. Nash dropped ASL interpreting and began Journalism without having any prior knowledge or experience on it, now she's editor in chief! Her goal is to get to know the world.

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